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Takeaways from FETC 2019

Takeaways from FETC 2019

You may think it is impossible to see trends develop at a gathering as large as the Future of Education Technology Conference. With 600 concurrent sessions, 275 workshops, and 450 exhibitors in the expo hall, there’s bound to be something for everyone. But there are still some problems that educators would like to solve and possibilities that have everyone excited, such as…

Technology adoption is widespread; higher-order strategies are not

More educators are comfortable using technology in their classrooms than ever before, but the level of that technology use can vary drastically within a school. Some teachers are happy putting a game of Kahoot on their smart boards and letting students go at it, thinking that method of assessment is more effective than conducting the same quiz with paper. Other teachers try to embed synthesis and high-level analysis in all of their lessons at regular intervals. Both levels of student engagement are not the same.

Technology is just a tool. The best solutions help teachers and students work together to explore knowledge systematically.

We can often see the future of technology in the special education classroom

There was an emphasis on inclusion tools and techniques this year in response to swelling special ed and English learner populations. Any effort in helping those students succeed should excite educators if for no other reason than that is where technology innovation often occurs. For example, voice recognition programs are now commonplace, but such solutions got their start as a way for students with special needs to interact with technology. Things to look out for include browser extensions that convert online content in customized ways (like switching sites to dyslexic-friendly fonts) and text-to-speech gaining more use in the traditional classroom.

We have a keyboarding problem

Districts often make headlines when they cut or reduce resources devoted to teaching students handwriting, like cursive. Their rationale is today’s children spend more time with devices. The problem is that districts are also cutting keyboarding instruction.

The reasoning there is different. Students are now digital natives and come into pre-K familiar with technology. Unfortunately, the technology they are familiar with is tablets or phones without keyboards. Until voice recognition becomes error-proof, keyboards will still be the most efficient way to produce content. We need to devote resources to making sure students can type.

Coding everywhere

There were many sessions devoted to extending computational thinking, logic, and even coding skills down to the early grades—including preschool. A four-year-old obviously will not be coding new skills for Alexa or Facebook’s latest feature, but it can pay to have children that young comprehend cause and effect more directly. You can do this through both online and offline resources and games.

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